Aki: Alright, at the very end here, you'll see an unfamiliar name, Tori. You'll see him when Blood of Orochimaru comes out July 11. Just thought I'd give a heads up.
"I'm not saying it's a bad idea…" Sakura said looking up a Tsunade. They were sitting with Shizune and Tonton having tea in one of the lounges in the Hokage's building. Sakura set her cup down and looked over at her teacher. "But, it's a horrible idea."
"Tsunade-sama, I'd have to agree. Not only does Navi refuse to fight, she loves getting drunk even though she can hold her liquor." Shizune added. "This morning she was found sleeping on a park bench by Konohamaru, and when he woke her up, she put the poor little guy in a coma."
"She's just not child friendly, we have to keep her away from the students and young Genin," Sakura said and looked out the window. Sakura panicked for a second, "Shizune what time is it?"
Shizune looked at her watch, "Two minutes to Noon. Why?"
Sakura stood up, "I have to go, bye Tsunade-sama, by Shizune, later Tonton." Tonton squealed and Sakura ran out the door and was seen jumping down the building and on to the main street.
"Where's she off to in such a hurry?" Shizune asked.
Tsunade smiled and took a quick sip of her tea. She set the glass down and pulled a small bottle of Sake out of the couch. "It's about time she got going. I was starting to sober up." She said and took a quick sip of the Sake. "I'm surprised she didn't tell you, she has a date today at Noon."
"With who?" Shizune asked pouring herself more tea. Tsunade just smiled.
"Sorry I'm late; I was trying to convince Tsunade not to make Navi the head of some Genin." Sakura said landing a little uncomfortably in her high heels.
"That's better then Sensai's reason for being late." Naruto said looking over at the Jounin.
Kakashi was leaning up against the fence and looked down over at them. "What, I wasn't lying, there really was a girl down by the river being attacked by enemy ninja!"
"That's just silly." Sakura said and looked down into town. "So, where's Sai and Captain Yamato?"
"I'm here!" Yamato said dropping in, "I was just filing the paper work for the girl that Kakashi found down by the river."
"Told you!" Kakashi said pleased with himself. "I knew I wasn't lying."
"Wow, that's strange." Naruto said.
"Maybe it's a sign of bad luck?" Sakura said.
"What's bad luck?" Sai said coming up behind them.
"Kakashi was telling the truth about why he was late." Sakura said. "Well, that's all of us, let's go!"
"Nope," Kakashi said. "There's three more coming."
"Who else did you invite, Kaki-Sensai?" Naruto asked, fidgeting in his tie. "And why do we have to dress up!?"
"Naruto, we're going to a five star restaurant! They won't let you in in you're normal clothes." Sakura said, "Sai's not complaining."
"I know, I know, but Sai's weird!" Naruto said then looked over at Sai, "no offense."
"None taken." Sai said calmly.
"Sorry were late." Iruka said walking up with Kurenai and Shikamaru. "Kurenai had trouble picking out shoes."
"I did not, it's just I had to pick the right shoes to go with this dress." She said in her defense. "Let's get out of this heat before I have a heat stroke."
"Don't joke about that." Shikamaru said blandly. "It was bad enough when you had it the other day."
"Alright, come on." Kakashi said.
"Hey Iruka-Sensai, they're not going to make Navi a Genin captain are they?" Sakura asked walking up next to him. "We've been trying to convince Tsunade-sama that she shouldn't but she's being stubborn."
"Maybe Kakashi should field your question." Iruka said looking at her. "He can explain it better."
"Sensai?" Sakura said turning towards him.
"What you've seen on Navi so far, is her at the bottom of a bottle. She's not like that at all, in fact, you get her sober, and she's the most incredible medical ninja in the world. She's patience, wise, and she knows how to protect people, she just loves… loves not to be sober. She's seen horrific things…"
"She has, she was one of the first on the seen when Minato died." Kurenai said with a note of sorrow in her voice, "they were the best of childhood friends. She always talks about him to remember him. And then, when the village was attacked three years ago… I still haven't told her about Asuma, I'm afraid she'd go into a depressive fit."
They slowly turned into the restaurant and were greeted by a waiter. "Don't worry about her," Kurenai said, "she was my team Captain when I was a Genin."
"Really?" Sakura said and followed her to a giant table. Kurenai nodded and they went to sit down at the large round table.
"Hey, Kaki-Sensai, you never really said what we were doing here…" Naruto said.
"It's a celebration." Kakashi said. "This is the day every year that Yamato and I celebrate everyone who's died, every ninja who's sacrificed their lives for a moment of peace."
"For every shinobi who's died in battle or of old age, sacrificed their lives, families, friends, and forsake them to fight for their country." Yamato said bowing his head.
"I hate being sober, it makes me remember the bad parts of my life." Navi said slowly staring up at the stone. "At least I can come and talk to you guys. You know, sometimes I wish I was with you, all these… all these things just keep happening…" She said with tears coming down her face. "…and I can't stop them. People just keep dying wherever I go, and whatever I do, I can't stop it. What's the use of being able to heal people if you can't heal yourself?" Navi curled her legs up to her chest and laid her head down and began crying.
"Yo, Navi…" Said a comforting voice coming up behind her. "Time doesn't heal it fast enough does it?" She lifted her head to shake it quickly. "It's okay to feel sad…"
She felt a hand on her back. "Navi… Are you alright."
She looked up, "Sempai… for a minute I thought…" She shook her head.
Tsunade offered her a hand up. "I'm giving you a team of Genin."
"I heard you other apprentices… they don't want me too. I'm pretty close to believing them." Tsunade sat down on the grass and looked up at the monument.
"Thing is I know you… I know what you can do. I know that you're the best damn medical ninja I've ever seen." She took a deep breath. "It was hard for me coming to Konoha too, all the pain of the people who've died, then you look at all the hope of the young ones, and you know that they don't truly understand that one by one, they'll all die, and there's nothing no one can do about it."
"That's not comforting." Navi said laughing a bit. "You were always bad at that."
"Maybe I'm not the one to talk to… I know someone who is. Come with me."
Suddenly the door burst open at the restaurant and everyone looked as the Hokage entered. "I'm sorry to ruin the party… But I need to borrow Naruto."
"Because, there's someone who needs to see what the future holds." She said puzzling them. Naruto got up and followed her out of the restaurant and up to the top of the Hokage's monument. "Navi…"
The woman jumped down tears in her eyes. "Naruto. Navi's lost nearly everything in her life, her brother, her mother and father, her friends. Why don't you tell her your dream."
"Huh?" Naruto said not seeing how this fit in to what Navi was going through. Tsunade walked away and left them alone. "So… you have no one?"
"Everyone I know… everyone I loved is gone."
"What about Tsunade? She dragged me all the way out here because she thought that somehow, I can help you. What about Kakashi? What about Kurenai? She didn't have to go on that mission and pick you up, she should have stayed home, but she went because of you."
"Really, all she ever does is yell at me now, she's not my little Kurenai-chan anymore." Navi said leaning over the railing looking down.
"Maybe if you didn't go around acting like a drunk, people would respect you more! You can't act like nothing matters! In five months, Kurenai will be a mother with the father dead and gone; does she look like she's giving up that easily?! You can't parade yourself around like that!
"If you keep up this, you'll never be happy! Since the day I was born, I was hated. People shunned me; no one was there for me. Then I met Iruka-Sensai, Kakashi-Sensai, Sakura-chan, Sasuke… and I found my purpose."
"I had a purpose… It was taken from me… I was going to be the world's greatest medical ninja, but those are child's dreams. Who believes in me anymore, to be lectured by a child! I'm 42 years old, I'm not achieving anything else with my life!"
"Then you should die! A person who has that out look on life is barely a person at all!" He yelled at her. Navi was taken aback. "You're sure as hells not acting like you're 42; you're acting like a damn child throwing a fit. Do you think any of you're comrades would ever, ever let you talk about yourself this way. They died for what they believe in, and so am I!"
'This is almost exactly like…' She said and saw Naruto but in a different face. 'Navi-chan, you can't just run away anymore…' 'Tsunade will forgive you for drinking all her Sake…' '…I'm going to become Hokage if I die doing it!'
"My name's Naruto Uzumaki! And I'm going to become Hokage if I die doing it!" He yelled at her. "And you… uh what's you're name…"
"Naruto," she said looking up at him, "thank you."
"Huh? Alright… um, I have to go back to a dinner… so…"
"Would you mind if I tagged along?" She asked whipping her tears, "I'd just like to follow you around a bit longer."
Naruto scratched his head and thought a bit, 'hey! I'm awesome, I should become a public speaker… or does Hokage encompass that? I'll ask Tsunade…' "It's fine; we're celebrating all the fallen ninjas, if that won't depress you."
"No, that'd be great." She said smiling through her tears. "It's just… you grew up just like I imagined you would."
"Huh? Wait, do we know each other?"
"I knew you when you were still in your mother's stomach." She said, and she just kept smiling.
"Hey, um, she wanted to come." Naruto said walking down and sitting down. Navi followed and looked at everyone, even though she'd clearly been crying. "If it wouldn't bother you, can I join you for dinner?"
"Of course, Sensai." Kurenai said then looked at Shikamaru. He muttered under his breath and pulled another chair over from the other table.
"Thank, Kurenai-chan." She said sitting down and staring up at everyone.
"Well, I was going to say, 'why don't we tell about the ninja we respected the most,' but…" Kakashi said looking over at Navi.
"It's okay, Kakashi-chan."
"Alright, why don't you start, Kurenai, since yours is the most obvious."
"Asuma, he was an amazing man, and he would have made an even better father. He was stong, and gentle…" Kurenai stopped and gave herself a moment, "but I'm proud to know that he died the way he wanted to, protecting his friends." She said smiling up with tears streaming down. She turned to Shikamaru.
"I'd have to say Asuma too… He was the only one who actually knew me for being smart, but lazy. He was the person I trusted most, and I hope that I'm at least half of who he was."
The table turned to Sakura. "The person I respected most was the Third. He was kind and gentle, and always knew what was best for us all. But, now I respect Tsunade-sama more, because I know what she's done to keep this village safe, and that's more then I could ever hope to do."
"Sadly, we didn't have hero's in Root." Sai said, "but, I did respect my brother. He was always there with a smile on his face and he knew what to do. I'll never forget him, he was the only one who kept me alive most of the time."
Naruto sat there quietly looking down. "Jiraiya… I don't know much about respect with him… but I do know, that whatever I do, I'll always have one of his perverted comments to refer too." He said smiling up at everyone. Naruto had brought a lighter note to the table.
"That's how people should be remembered, Naruto," Yamato said. "I will always remember one of my fellow ANBU, who fell when Orochimaru attacked Konoha. He was usually so serious, but he only wanted everyone to be safe and fell protecting the rest of his team, and died asking for one last drink of Sake."
"I remember him, we never got along." Kakashi said, "Never leave your friends behind, I always say it, remembering when I didn't listen to it. Rin, Obito and Minato-Sensai were out on a mission, Sensai split off for a bit. Obito went off after some ninjas and I ordered Rin to follow me. Obito was caught under a large rockslide when I finally realized my mistake. He was dying, there was nothing to save him, and he offered me his Sharigan Eye because I had just lost my eye fighting off the ninjas he followed. I have something to permanently remind me of his kind nature and my biggest mistkate.
"Sakura, Sai, Naruto, Shikamaru, all the Jounin here have learned this, never take your friends for granted, they may not be there tomorrow."
Navi sighed, "Kakashi… You're depressing."
"I'm sorry, Navi-san, I don't mean to." He said apologizing.
"Well, I miss Minato, and Kushina, and that old fart Jiraiya… and the third, and Asuma. I never got to say goodbye to any of them, I wasn't even on speaking terms with Minato when he died, I never got to apologize for calling him a fool. Kushina, I last saw seven months in, she was so happy. Jiraiya, the old coot, I saw last in a bar, four, five years ago, said he was going back to Konoha, said the Third died. I was tempted to go with him to see Tsunade-sama, but I had pissed her off before I left the village. Over all, everyone I knew growing up is gone, except Tsunade-sama. But I'm not worried anymore, I have to future to look at." She said staring over at Naruto.
"And you called me depressing?" Kakashi said. "Yours was horrible."
"Oh and teaching lessons that involve the death of Obito-chan aren't?"
"They don't even know him; it's not that depressing to them."
"Still, it's a death, and you even went into details!"
"HEY! Shut up you two!" Naruto growled. They stopped arguing immediately. "They're all depressing, okay?"
"Sorry, Navi and I just argue a lot. It's the way it's always been." Kakashi said scratching his hair.
"Kaki-Sensai, Navi-sama…" Sakura said looking at them, "grow up."
"Alright, alright, so, when's the food get here?"
"Yeah, we do we order?" Shikamaru said looking at Kakashi.
"The dinner part doesn't open up for another twenty minutes."
"EEE! WHAT DID YOU DRAG US OUT SO EARLY?" Naruto yelled.
"I thought we need time to talk."
"TALKINGS ALL FINE AND WELL, BUT YOU PROMISED US FOOD."
Sakura grabbed him and pulled him back down, "you can wait twenty minutes, you idiot!"
"Ahh… but I'm really hungry, Sakura-chan."
"How's it going?" Gaara asked walking up to Matsuri as they overlooked the city from atop the Kazekage's building.
"They're planning to section off this east area here, in the business district near the front, so it won't interrupt the populations normal days. They're building the stage against the wall, there." She said pointing out. "It's being made of poured concrete, just as you asked. Why did you ask for that?"
"If I go up against Rock Lee, the concrete will end up splitting in half, but it's better than wood chips flying everywhere." He said, "I've heard some Rock country ninjas have arrived."
"Yes, they wanted to enter someone in the competition at the advanced level. I think his name was Tori." Matsuri said walking away with Gaara. "He did mention one request though."
"He wishes to fight Naruto Uzumaki."
"Then he isn't alone." Gaara said smiling. "He isn't alone."